Peru increases park security following Washington Park vandalism incidents

City buys 3 additional motion detecting cameras

The city of Peru has increased surveillance following recent vandalism at Washington Park bathrooms. Officials believe the vandalism has come from a new social media challenge.

Contrary to other incidents of vandalism, police believe these incidents have taken place during the mid-afternoon hours instead of after dark.

Peru Police Chief Bob Pyszka issued a release at the end of last week saying the police department is aware of the damage at the park and asked members of the public to report any suspicious activity.

Following the release, Pyszka provided an update during Monday’s council meeting and said the department has purchased three additional cameras for increased security.

“These cameras that we just purchase will give a notification to (Peru Police) Commander (Dennis) Hocking if motion is detected,” Pyszka said. “We will then send an officer down there right away.”

Police and city officials believe this string of vandalism stems entirely from social media challenges that continue to escalate.

“We’re working on it,” Pyszka said. “Hopefully the cameras will produce something now and when we get the notification we can be there right away.”

Vandalism will not be tolerated, officials said.

Alderman Mike Sapienza said while he’s against “big brother” the city is led into increased surveillance to put a stop to the vandalism.

The city has been working toward having fiber optics installed at all of its parks over the past few years. This system, once completed, would help the city install such programs as increased surveillance more seamlessly to prevent future incidents.

IT Director Stephen Rounds assured the council his department is continuing toward completing this goal.

The complete install of the fiber optics will require assistance from the city’s electric department, which is without the manpower to put emphasis on this task.

“I just want to be sure that it’s being followed up on,” Sapienza said. “I don’t want us to be lax on that and say ‘Gee, I wish we would have.’ ”

The police ask residents located near parks and around the city to continue to report suspicious activity that may be related to this issue. The police can be reached at 815-223-2151, ext. 0, or at the tip line at 815-223-1432.